I have a severe case of Multiple Sclerosis. It took me almost ten years of dealing with, “It’s just stress, come back next week if you’re still unwell”, “Stop making things up and wasting everyone’s time” and “Well if your vision is poor maybe you just need new glasses”. Getting my symptoms brushed off as migraines, losing my vision and mobility multiple times, and travelling to hospitals in continental Europe just to get my condition officially confirmed.
By the time I got to see a doctor who would take time to look into my case, it was too late. The response I got from him was “I’m surprised you can even walk by yourself seeing how many holes you’ve got in there” and that there isn’t much that can be done for me now, unless I want to go onto an extreme treatment, which involves destroying my immune system completely to hopefully slow down the progression of the disease. This, however, increases my risk of catching other incurable conditions due to the lack of said immune system.
There are some strong drugs I can be given to help speed up the recovery from a relapse, but there is absolutely nothing that can be done about my everyday symptoms. Never-ending, excruciating and mentally agonising headaches, weakness and pain in my limbs, fatigue, hypersensitivity to light and sound, balance issues and cognitive issues have now become a part of my everyday life and have influenced my grades, mental well-being and personal relationships. I can’t recall and remember new things. It takes me so much effort to concentrate and focus on a task. I might suddenly find it difficult to walk and breathe in the middle of a walk. I slur. My attention span is getting shorter and shorter. I need to take painkillers so strong I can’t speak. I think the most annoying part of it all is how uncomfortable it makes me feel and how invisible it all is.
Most of these symptoms make me look like I’m simply lazy, uncaring and clumsy. You can’t really tell anything is wrong with me by simply looking at me and I absolutely loathe feeling helpless and weak. So, I keep forcing myself to be ‘normal’ even though often I’d rather lie down on the floor and cry. I just want the pain to go away. The pain you can’t see and none of us can do anything about.